30 May 2019, The Tablet

Benedict’s runaway court: is there one Pope too many?


Benedict’s runaway court: is there one Pope too many?

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict pictured in 2016
Photo: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano

 

Six years on, how is that most startling of contemporary Catholic novelties, the emeritus pontificate, working out? Does it help or hinder the Petrine ministry? What can be learned from the experience? Not since Francis dialled his predecessor on the night of his election have these questions gone away. From Castel Gandolfo, Benedict, clutching his cordless phone, pledged his total obedience and prayer, and he has been as good as his word, never contradicting Francis, cutting short those who come to him to complain and always being available to his successor with advice and support.

 

The same cannot, however, be said of the courtiers who live with or visit him at the Mater Ecclesiae convent up the hill

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